If not every Canadian is aware of an evangelical Christian presence in the country, don't blame it on an estimated 30,000-plus Christians in 2,000 churches. On June 12, they capped three weeks of eclectic community involvement with a nationally televised broadcast.
Dubbed "Celebration 2005," the event featured:
- A Lethbridge, Alberta, multichurch barbecue to express support for ranchers hard hit by the 18-month-old mad-cow crisis that had closed the Canada-U.S. border to live cattle trade;
- A British Columbia Presbyterian church's "plant-a-row" project that encourages church members with gardens to provide fresh produce, several months a year, to a local food bank;
- Translating the Book of Daniel into aboriginal Mohawk language, as one means to help combat high suicide rates among First Nations young people;
- Free car washes in Ottawa, Canada's capital.
Spearheaded by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), C2005's aim was to help Christians love their neighbors. Sharing the gospel was integral to many of the outreaches. Resource materials helped people communicate simply and effectively. The EFC represents 140 denominations, educational institutions, and ministries amid Canada's highly pluralistic population of 32.8 million people.
The idea for C2005 emerged four years ago from a joint meeting of several EFC "Roundtables," designated to follow up on a 1995 conference in Toronto. Aileen Van Ginkel, EFC's ministry empowerment director, said the Roundtable leaders, drawn from congregational, educational, media, and development fields, wanted more than "just another conference."
Guy Saffold, executive vice president of Trinity Western University and chair of the education Roundtable, suggested city festivals might be a good place to start. In the end, the events, while festival-like in some communities, involved a much broader range of community activities.
Riverwood Church Community, a congregation of 300 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for example, developed an "adopt-a-block" program in a declining neighborhood. The results ranged from yard cleanup and weed pulling to the rebuilding of rotting front porches.
The wrap-up C2005 telecast originated live from Peterborough, Ontario, a city of 74,600 two hours west of Toronto, often used to test-market national initiatives.
EFC president Bruce Clemenger asked viewers to see C2005 as a gift to Canada.
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The Celebration 2005 website has photos, news updates, lists of participants, testimonials, and prayer resources.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has more information about its ministry, members, and publications.
Other recent CT coverage of ministry in Canada includes:
Finally, Church Growth in Canada | Research reveals unexpected gains for Christians. (Feb. 01, 2005)
Overcoming Inertia on Porn | Sexual images of children are the target of Canadian Christian campaign. (Aug. 18, 2003)
Christian Parents Flee Public Schools | Canadian high court orders school board to reconsider pro-gay books. (Feb. 27, 2003)
Prostitute Murders Spur Ministry | Vancouver Christians rescue women lost on streets. (Oct. 31, 2002)
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